|Sign-post to the Nietzsche Haus |
PHOTO: Niemoczynski, 2017
Sils Maria is an indescribable place, if one wants to paint a picture of it perfectly. I'm not sure words could do justice to the peace which is that place. Granted, Switzerland now has a special place for me - mostly because of its picturesque landscapes, its pine forests, its mountains and peaks, and of course its quaint and romantic way of life . But if I had to put my finger on it (and I believe Nietzsche had mentioned this) - there is something about the air there. Something, rejuvenating, perhaps?
“Well, my dear old friend, I am once more in the Upper Engadine. This is my third visit to the place and once again I feel that my proper refuge and home is here and nowhere else.”
- Friedrich Nietzsche to Carl von Gersdorff, Sils Maria, late June 1883
Our visit to the Nietzsche house was quick but informative. The house is tucked away just off the street past the train station stop which is marked "Sils Maria." Proceed not even a minute's walk to your left and the Nietzsche house is there off the street on the left.
My wife wasn't so much interested and began studying the adjacent hotel, a charming building in its own right. And for a few minutes she began to say how nice it would be that if we had children we could venture here as a family and vacation. I agreed. (We desperately want children, and the thought of vacationing in this beautiful place with my wife, and hopefully one day children, for a moment moved me.)
As to my expedition regarding more philosophical things, I think I learned more just by absorbing the surrounding experience of the mountains and forests, the creek nearby, the silence only being interrupted by the sounds of insects or the wind. But it was Nietzsche's own bare room which spoke most profoundly to me.
Inside the home there are many, many books which are organized according to various donated collections. There are various artifacts and items to look at, and a room dedicated to Nietzsche studies or exhibitions (currently in one of the rooms are paintings by an artist who lived in the house recently for two years). For me, though, it was Nietzscbe's room as well as the view from his room to the mountain outside which affected my experience of this place. Reminiscent of the painting by Caspar David Friedrich I had to think that the "wanderer"who was meant for those mountains could have only been Nietzsche himself. Inside his room there is not much to see but certainly much one might sense. The walls are bare, one small carpet is at the center of the floor, there is a small bed, and there is a porcelain washbowl and pitcher across from the bed. That's it.
But, there is a thing that struck me - and let me say right away that this will come off as quite personal and thus perhaps strange - is how Nietzsche placed on his wall a green piece of wall paper. Neat and rectangular, there it was in the midst of his Spartan-like room. But, it was the tone of the green which struck me. The tone was deep and seductive.
|The Wanderer above a Sea of Fog, Caspar David Frierich, c. 1818|
If one is to reflect upon the meaning of green in that poem alone, let alone its place in Thus Spoke Zarathustra, the poem's use of color all hangs upon green and its place vis-a-vis the abyss. Standing there, in Nietzsche's room, looking out from his window, to his fabled mountains of Zarathustra, I realized that the color green was for him, the abyss. From there we hear about gold, blue, brown, black, and so on.
But "green," a dark majestic green, is the color of the golf-course greens where I was a night watchmen, my own Zarathustra at age 19, reading Nietzsche and marveling beneath the stars in the middle of those humid but cool, clear summer nights at 3am. Here in Sils Maria I was at the very place where one of the most influential philosophers who attracted me to philosophy in the first place lived. And here I was gazing out his window - at the same forests, the same mountains, the same stream. My Nietzsche journey had come full circle as I looked out his window.
Now that I have become part of "the establishment" of academia - a "philosophy professor" - part of that same establishment Nietzsche so despised, Herr Nietzsche and his anti-philosophy has crept up from behind me yet again to spur me into open reflection, just as he had when I was 19. And for that, my good friend, Friedrich Wilhem Nietzsche, I am thankful.
Today I still ask that most dreadful question, why? Hanging onto my late '30s, with respect to that question maybe Nietzsche's response, fittingly from the poem, remains the same when I found him while I was so young. "Stand firm my brave heart, do not ask: why? -"
A visit to the house costs 8 Francs (no Euros accepted).
Below one can find photos with captions of my visit. I'll attempt to upload a video of me traveling the path behind the house where Nietzsche would take walks when he could. As Sils Maria is a place for holiday one can see a hotel near the one where Nietzsche himself stayed. The only two cars that pass in the video toward the end were the only two heard during the hour I was there. Otherwise it was complete silence.
Finally, I am not an expert video producer so my apologies for the camera work (which is non-existent). I just wanted to show what the path looked like and attempt to transcribe to video the experience of what it may have been like for Nietzsche to walk along that path. Of course, that is impossible. In the end this was really an amazing experience and is on par with our visit to the Heidegger Hut (link HERE). Both visits were magical. Now on to the photos and video...
|Mountains en route to the Nietzsche Haus|
|We've arrived! Sign directing visitors to the Nietzsche Haus, just off the street at Sils Maria, Switzerland|
|View, front of the house|
|Dedicatory sign above front door|
|A simple stone path directors visitors|
|Left side front of house|
|Right side front of house where Nietzsche stayed|
|Forest path behind the house|
|View of the mountains from the front path front of house|
|View of adjacent hotel|
|Some visitors leaving Sils Maria|
|Leon and Na leave Sils Maria|
|Last glance at the lake before we leave for Turano|
Read also about our visit to the cabin where the most infamous philosopher of the 20th-century Martin Heidegger (1889-1976) would stay each summer, and where he would eventually write his masterpiece, Being and Time (1927), link HERE.